21 - PIXIRICA
Leandra erostrata (De.) Cogn. (MELOSTOMATACEAE)
21- Pixirica - Leandra erostrata (De.) Cogn. (MELOSTOMATACEAE )
Sub-shrub or shrub up to 0.6 m high. Leaves with short petiole, covered with fuzz, with a floury texture in the lower portion, with 3 to 7 ribs, 3 to 8 cm x 1.7 to 4.7 cm, rounded base and pointed tip. Flowers on the tips of the branches, with five petals, pinkish-white. Formation of berry type fruit, purplish when ripe, covered with hairiness, with many tiny seeds.
This popular and funny name is also residual from some time when this plant was still present in everyday life. Maybe I am part of the first generation to have no idea what a pixirica is. The term is used for many different species and I used the biologist Edegar Bernardes to help me discover the scientific name. I found the species abundantly in a well-preserved terrain, with a diversity of species very characteristic of the Campos de Piratininga.
Distribution: All over Brazil, especially in clean fields, dirty fields and open vegetation environments.
Situation in São Paulo: It forms small clumps and sometimes in large numbers. It appears in some parks and vacant lots.
How to plant: Always remove very carefully to preserve the root ball, and water well until there is regrowth. It is a plant somewhat sensitive to drought, but it sprouts with the first rains of spring. The seeds are also easy to germinate, just spread them over the ground. I noticed that birds eat fruits, as well as bats. We will wait for the result of these dispersers.
Uses: In addition to being very ornamental, due to the peculiar texture and coloring of the leaves and buds, it has edible fruits, with a sweet and pleasant flavor. It can be used as a blueberry substitute in several recipes. Gui Ranieri, a specialist in PANCs, suggests making a simple white cake by adding the fruits to the dough, which turn into bluish jelly dots giving the cake a marbled texture. A delight!
MARTINS, AB (COORD.) MELASTOMATACEAE IN: MARTINS, SE ET AL (EDS.) FLORA PHANEROGAMIC OF THE STATE OF SÃO PAULO. INSTITUTE OF BOTANICS, SÃO PAULO, VOL. 6, PP: 1-168, 2009.
This was a very characteristic and resilient wasteland close to the marginal Tietê, a survivor of the times of Campos de Piratininga, unfortunately destroyed in the middle of 2017. It was abundant in pixiricas!
This is one of my favorite species among all that I met on the project. I love how the ribs give volume to the leaf. They capture the serene cold winter nights, helping the plant in the dry season.
The fruits are edible, I could say that they resemble a tasteless blueberry. If it were a domesticated plant certainly, with a selection the fruit could be more fleshy and tasty. But it’s not bad.